“Sarah Nightingale has written an intriguing novel which delves into the psyche of the woman Isis whose desire to reach her destination leads her on a dangerous journey. Set against the backdrop of a fascinating period in ancient Egyptian history, the author has captured the landscape and spirit of the time and leads the reader to an unexpected ending.”
Phyllis Saretta, Ph.D., Egyptologist
“It is a work of excellence which drew and held me within another time and place.""
Carol Horn, Director of Light Winds International Journeys
“This book is thought-provoking and hard to put down! The voices and hearts of the characters linger long after the reading.""
Llyn Roberts, award winning author of Shapeshifting Into Higher Consciousness and co-author of Speaking With Nature
This passionate saga follows Isis, a woman of little means, coming of age in ancient Egypt after her mother’s death. A profound sense of emptiness leads her on a quest to keep some part of her mother alive. Her perilous but insightful journey leads to her involvement as a “sacred virgin” to the Pharaoh Thutmose II, husband of the legendary Hatshepsut where she gets caught up in a sexual indiscretion that results in a fatal betrayal and the birth of the next pharaoh. The novel lifts the veil to the mystery and perils of the netherworld where a difficult navigation is required before reaching “eternal bliss.”"
|Publisher:||Author Solutions Inc|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.63(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Sarah Nightingale
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2015 Sarah Nightingale
All rights reserved.
The White Crown
EGYPT, circa 1550 BCE
Thutmose I sat on the divine seat of Horus, set high on a finely carved wooden platform protected by rows of Uraeus snakes and yawned. He gazed at the seven colossal painted figures of gods and goddesses that graced the walls of his throne room. It was, however, the green-faced Osiris, clutching the crook and flail, that commanded the old Pharaoh's attention. He wondered if it had become the god's will to move within him so freely.
Thutmose trembled under the weight of the massive double crown. The Pharaoh took a deep breath, attempting to still his body. His grasp on the crook and flail was so tight that they began to clink together in rhythm, a consequence of the ebbing years he now held on to so tenuously.
Servants, carrying an ornate golden litter, entered the throne room. They knew without instruction that the Pharaoh was to be taken to his private quarters for rest. As he was being carried away, his eyes were diverted outside past the tall columns. He gazed upon his only daughter, the Princess Maatkare Hatshepsut, as she sat by the lotus pool in the garden.
Thutmose motioned for his litter to stop. He allowed himself the pleasure of watching her for a few moments before going on. Her twelve-year-old body was partially covered by a white linen dress. A wide golden armband studded with lapis and carnelian adorned her arm, and crowning her long black tresses was a headband she'd made with fresh flowers from the garden.
Thutmose was inspired by her beauty and intelligence and wondered how he managed to raise such a strong-minded and independent daughter. From an early age she would sneak into her father's chambers, ruffle through his lapis box of ceremonial jewelry, and attach the largest of his gold necklaces around her tiny neck, grab his crook and fail, and sit up very straight in his chair. The old Pharaoh smiled as he marveled at her budding womanhood.
He would talk to her again this evening about her marriage. His son Thutmose II, without pure royal blood flowing in his veins, had proven to be sickly and of only modest intellect. Perhaps marriage would be good for him; a strong intelligent wife might be enough.
The Pharaoh waved for the servants to continue on. Feeling the lulling movement of the litter, he fought vainly to keep his eyes open. His head bobbed forward; the massive crown of Upper and Lower Egypt slipped forward and awoke him.
As soon as he was delivered to his private quarters, his frail body, covered entirely with small crisp wrinkles, was laid in the comforting folds of soft linen; he fell asleep almost immediately. After so many years, his thunderous snore became reassuring to his wife Queen Ahmose, consort of the god.
The heat was unrelenting. Six domestic servants stood silently around the Pharaoh's bed with long handled feather fans. They provided him comfort even in sleep. The servants observed, as they had many times, Thutmose mumbling quietly between hoarse breaths. It was as though he had some direct communication with the gods.
At last the snoring subsided. The servants stepped aside while others entered with fresh water and fruit to prepare him for his next round of responsibilities. He never looked directly at them; their presence was accepted as a matter of course.
In the evening, just before the sun set, Princess Hatshepsut knocked quietly on her father's door. He had been napping in a comfortable chair, dreaming that statues were crumbling in an earthquake. A young man was riding toward him on the back of a lion, when he was interrupted from his slumber.
He attempted to straighten his body, cleared his throat, and waved a servant to answer the door. When he saw that it was his daughter, he smiled broadly. With a thin hand he beckoned her to enter.
"I think you are becoming more beautiful each day," he mused.
The princess leaned down and gently kissed him.
Reaching out his hand to touch hers, he continued, "Tell me what you did today."
She sat down at his feet, wrapping her arms around his bare legs. He patted her head.
"I was walking by the great river and was almost eaten by a crocodile," she said with a giggle.
"It was quite hot."
"And the lotus flowers were everywhere, all in bloom."
Thutmose could feel her youthful energy recharging him.
"Then, out a little way, I spotted a blue lotus and waded out to fetch it. I was going to bring it, roots and all, to the pool in the garden. The crocodile must have been guarding it."
"You must be more careful," the Pharaoh scolded. "After all, you will become the Queen of Egypt ..."
"You will make a beautiful queen."
"But I don't want to be queen, especially if I have to marry the son of a concubine." She pulled away.
A groan quivered through the Pharaoh as he spoke, "He is my son."
"That doesn't mean I have to marry him."
"It is destiny, my child."
Suddenly, the youthful energy he had felt drained away. The princess stood and walked to the window.
"You do not think I am capable of ruling Egypt? I am several years older than Thutmose and much smarter." She turned back from the window and gazed at him. "I thought if I studied hard and proved to be intelligent, you wouldn't force me." Tears flooded her eyes and she made no effort to hide them. "You can't make me marry Thutmose. Let him marry someone else. Let mebe Pharaoh." The tears streamed freely down her face as her father turned and stared blankly at a painted wall.
"When have you seen a Pharaoh cry when he didn't get his way?" he said.
The princess fell to her knees and grasped her father's hands. "I will never cry again. I will do anything for you or for Egypt, but please don't make me marry him. I hate him!"
Her father's voice grew somber, "Marry him not for me, but for Egypt."
Princess Hatshepsut stood up and strode to the door. "I won't marry him, Father. Not for you or for Egypt. I will marry a foreign prince." The princess's cheeks were now streaked by the kohl from her eyes. She turned to face her father one last time. "Please don't make me!" she cried as she fled the room.
After she left, the old Pharaoh sat vividly remembering Thutmose II as a child, playing with his small crook and flail by the great river. As though it had happened yesterday, he saw the boy take the flail and pretend to fight an enemy with it. His big sister, the Princess Hatshepsut, had grabbed it away and he'd run crying to his mother.
Several days passed since the princess had fled his quarters. The old Pharaoh's heart ached for his daughter. He couldn't blame her, but there was no other possibility. In his own case, his marriage to Ahmose had been a disappointment. Their sons had died, as well as a daughter. This left only the Princess Hatshepsut, born to him in the twilight of his years.
After the evening meal, the Princess Hatshepsut went to the Pharaoh's chamber to bid her parents goodnight. When she entered she saw her mother, wearing a short tightly curled wig quite similar to her father's, sitting next to him in a smaller chair. With her once shapely figure many years gone, her white shift hung loosely. The queen wore a golden vulture headdress, the sacred bird spreading its wings over her head, providing protection.
The princess's petite face was aglow, a contrast to the stern demeanor of her mother. Ahmose lifted a goblet of wine to her thin lips and took a tiny sip. "You look cheerful, my child."
As the princess smiled at her mother, she reached out and touched her father's hand. The weight of the pharaoh's scarab necklace pinched the delicately wrinkled skin of his neck. Covering his head, a brightly colored head cloth drew attention to his enormous hooked nose. His kohl lined eyes were clouded.
The princess stood before her parents, smoothing the front of her fitted, transparent dress. Scrutinizing her father's face, the reality of his age and condition became painfully apparent for the first time. "Are you feeling well?" she asked.
"Well enough." He handed his goblet to a servant who was fanning him and then glanced at his daughter. "The time has come for you to marry Thutmose II and meet your responsibilities to the throne."
After wiping his damp forehead with his hand, the Pharaoh snapped his fingers; the fan bearers began to fan him more vigorously.
The princess's eyes moved rapidly away from her father's piercing look. "We have already talked about it. I ... I did not come here to discuss it any further, I just came to say goodnight."
"It is a subject that will not wait forever." Thutmose said. "You must accept your destiny and become Queen of Egypt."
"I can't marry him, Father. I have told you this since I was a child. It would be much easier for us both if I would, but I can't stand to be near him. I do not respect him. How can you ask me to be his wife?"
Queen Ahmose's face turned red. "This kind of talk will anger the gods. Don't you care about your family or Egypt? Take your selfish pride and go!"
The following morning, loud wailing echoed through the palace halls. The Pharaoh was dead. Outside his door, the fan bearers stood motionless and his female attendants wept boisterously while pulling at their hair. When the princess entered the darkened room it was clear the gods had already called him. Feeling shock and guilt, she made no attempt to console her mother, who sat with her hands covering her face, whimpering beside the Pharaoh's emaciated body.
The princess could not cry. Unable to speak, she stared at the lifeless shell that once was a living god. Her mother was sure to blame her for upsetting him. It was too late to ask for forgiveness.
The day after Thutmose I was taken to rest in a secret burial chamber that was hewn into the side of a mountain, the princess knew that she would be married soon.
It was the first time she had visited her mother's quarters since her father's passing. Maatkare Hatshepsut knocked at her mother's door. When the door opened, Queen Ahmose was sitting in a chair while a servant straightened her wig.
Gracefully, the princess bowed. "Exalted Mother, we should talk about the plans you are making for me."
"It is time."
"I am ready," Hatshepsut replied. A chill of resignation rolled down her spine.
"Good. I have consulted with your brother and he is ready as well."
The princess swallowed hard. "I would like this to be over soon."
Her mother waved the servant away. "But I have planned a very large celebration. Trust me, my child."
Hatshepsut's heart pounded. She fought the rising tide of anger within her. "My name is Maatkare, I am not a child! I will accept my destiny and become the next queen of Egypt as my father desired, but nothing was said about making a spectacle of it."
Ahmose stared blankly at her lovely daughter; her stern face rigid as stone.
"Please excuse me now. I must speak to my brother."
Realizing that further conversation was fruitless, her mother waved her away as she would a servant.
During the long days of mourning, Princess Hatshepsut hadn't seen Thutmose II. Upon leaving her mother's quarters, she ventured to the room where her father often conducted Egypt's business. Her brother would be there. She entered without knocking.
His thin, reedy voice greeted her. "Maatkare, sit down." Thutmose II, a full head shorter than the princess, had buck teeth and red watery eyes with dark circles beneath them. Small skin lesions covered his face. The boy looked puffy and at times had difficulty breathing. "I was told the queen is planning a big wedding for us," he said with much effort.
"I have put a stop to that. But I really came to talk to you about the two of us ruling together."
The boy was stunned. "So you want us both to be Pharaoh?"
"It was father's wish." The princess searched his eyes for a reaction, and when she found none, she continued. "If I marry you, you wear the red crown, I the white."
Thutmose's eyes turned to the door as their cousin Useramen approached. "Excuse me now," he said, "I have not seen him in many months."
"I will not leave without an answer," Hatshepsut exclaimed.
Thutmose II kept his eyes on the door. "It was not my father's wish," he said. Raising his voice, he beckoned to the tall, handsome man who was walking through the doorway. "Come in! Come in! How good it is to see you!" The boy stood and reached out his hand to Useramen as Princess Hatshepsut turned quickly to leave.CHAPTER 2
Filtering through a high placed window, hot rays of light illuminated the mud brick dwelling and the drawn face of the woman, Naeja. Her short gray hair glistened with droplets of sweat that collected on her forehead. A look of sadness clung to her face. She lay motionless on her bed of grass and palm fronds. Her eyes opened. "Isis, my daughter ..."
Isis knelt by her mother's bedside, patting cool water from the sacred river onto her forehead. "I am with you," she said as she rinsed the course linen cloth with fresh cool water.
Barely fourteen, Isis was petite with olive skin and already full breasts. Her round, dark brown eyes held a steady and serious countenance. They were balanced by a strong jaw and small mouth with full lips. Her glossy waist-length hair shone rich ebony.
Naeja's mind appeared to waver between this world and the next. "There is such darkness on the other side, such darkness," Naeja warned in barely audible tones.
"Ra is calling you into his light," Isis whispered, fighting back tears. "I will pray to the god; I will pray to him, Mother." Isis didn't know if the powerful Ra was an all-loving god or not. She just hoped so.
A slight smile appeared on her mother's face. "I will finally get a chance to meet her," Naeja whispered.
"Your sister, my dear. She came into this world with you but was immediately called away by the gods."
"She will be there to meet you, Mother. Don't worry about the darkness," Isis pleaded.
Naeja relaxed her hand and closed her eyes. Isis straightened her coverlet and wrung out the wet rag. A few minutes passed before Naeja opened her eyes and struggled to voice a warning, "Trust ..." Laboring to bring the words "no one" to her lips, she floundered without enough air to propel them.
"Trust? Mother, I will trust. I ... I will not forget," Isis stammered. She dropped the rag into the water and reached for her mother's limp hands. Straining to listen for more words to beg meaning from, she now heard only sound fragments slipping from her parched lips.
To the young girl, it was clear that her mother was having visions, perhaps of the fields of laru where barley and spelt grew to seven cubits.
Isis moved to the window, observing the first shadow of the afternoon. "Such darkness." Gazing out, she could feel her throat tighten and her eyes burn in a futile effort to release the intense pain in her heart. Suddenly the room that had always been filled with her mother's presence now felt empty. She turned around.
Isis knelt on the dirt floor beside the bed. The shallow breathing had subsided. Gently, she squeezed her mother's hand but felt no response. "Oh no! Please not now! Let's pray to Ra together," she begged. Desperately searching for contact, Isis peered into her mother's eyes once more, but they were now horribly vacant.
The room blurred. Nausea and pain became one. Staggering into the corner, she collapsed, sliding down the wall and clutching her head with her hands. Only one thing echoed in her mind, how will I ever survive?
In the months following her mother's death, Isis never again felt comfortable in the mud brick room they had shared all of her life. Her profound sense of emptiness led Isis to keep her mother's bed empty at night. The loss was so overwhelming. Keeping the bed empty was a small gesture, an attempt to keep a part of her mother alive. Perhaps her mother's ka, her life force, would return to it for rest. Isis couldn't be sure.
Excerpted from Beloved Lotus by Sarah Nightingale. Copyright © 2015 Sarah Nightingale. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1 The White Crown, 1,
2 Sacred Virgin, 10,
3 Hatshepsut's Royal Tomb, 26,
4 The Great King's Wife, 33,
5 Nubian Slave Girl, 46,
6 Fantasy of Love, 53,
7 Experiences beyond This World, 62,
8 A Broken Heart, 71,
9 The Royal Wedding, 86,
10 Through the Horus Eye, 94,
11 The Magician Fails, 109,
12 Daughter of Ra, 122,
13 Temple of Millions of Years, 140,
14 Expedition to Punt, 153,
15 Inside Information, 165,
16 The Brightest Star, 185,
17 Saving the Royal Mummy, 193,
18 The Oracle, 202,
19 Obelisk Power, 215,
20 Transforming Into a Lotus, 220,
21 The Fatal Betrayal, 228,
22 The Final Voyage, 240,
23 Finding the Ka, 254,
24 Going Home, 261,